8 Ways To Show Your Dog You Love Him
Learn his love language 💕
Now is the perfect time to show your pup just how special he is and how much you love him — well, really, any time of the year is, right?!
Luckily, our pups don’t need much to feel fully appreciated. Most of the time, just your snuggles and pets will do.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t make sure you’re loving your pup in the best way possible.
And sometimes, that means avoiding doing what comes naturally to you — all for the sake of love.
The Dodo reached out to Lauren Rubin, a dog trainer at Creative Canine Solutions in Oregon, to find out more about how to show your dog you love him.
Understand his body language
While telling your dog how much you love him might make you feel good, it’s important you let him know in a way he’ll understand. That means having to be super familiar with the basics of dog body language.
Learning to read your dog’s body language is key to showing him some love — since the better you understand your dog, the better you’ll get at knowing what he likes.
“For example, rolling over on their side with their tail tucked is not an invitation for belly rubs, but rather a plea for space,” Rubin told The Dodo. “Not all dogs love getting pets! But if your dog’s tail wags like crazy when the ball comes out, then ball time is a great way to show love.”
Here are some other basic ways to know how your dog is feeling:
How to tell if your dog’s happy:
- Wiggly body
- Soft eyes
- Wagging tail
How to tell if your dog’s unhappy:
- A tucked tail
- Lip licking
- Stiff body
Go on some extra-long walks (and let him sniff EVERYTHING!)
If there’s one thing your dog loves, it’s the “W” word. To show your pup you’re extra thankful for him this season, strap on his favorite harness, put on his favorite coat and take him out on a nice, long walk.
But not just any walk. For this one, let him take his sweet, sweet time exploring and sniffing EVERYTHING! Refrain from pulling him away from that one bush, and just let him have the time of his life.
Settle in for some much-needed cuddle time
There’s nothing like cuddles to make your pup feel special. Grab your favorite cozy blanket, throw on a feel-good movie and get your snuggle on.
Respect his boundaries
Let your dog decide how and where to receive pets. “Your dog may love having their chin rubbed but not their head, or vice versa,” Rubin said. “To find out, hold your hands out, palms up, when your dog approaches you. If they move a body part into your hands, start petting. Slow, calm pets are best and can help your dog relax (think like a light massage). Pet your dog for about five seconds, then remove your hands. If your dog sticks around, keep petting. If they move away, let them go.”
Respecting your pup's request for pets (or no pets) is a great way to show your dog you love and care.
Get him a brand-new bed
Probably the second most popular place for your dog — after your lap — is his bed. If your pup’s bed is a little raggedy from all that digging, it might be time to show him you love him by getting him the cuddliest upgrade.
Stock up on his favorite toys and treats
Whether your pup loves peanut butter, tennis balls or just your classic dog biscuit, make sure you have plenty on hand to shower him with presents.
Reward him for good behavior
Offering your dog tasty treats (like these yummy soft chews that won our Paw of Approval) for being calm around the house or doing other things you like is a great way to show him that you appreciate him.
Give him all the scratches
Of course you already give your pup all the pets, but while you’re super focused on showing him how grateful you are for his constant positivity, go ahead and give him even more behind-the-ears scratches than usual.
How NOT to say ‘I love you’ in dog language
One of the first things to note about giving your pup some extra TLC is that dogs and humans don’t love in exactly the same ways. While you might have a list of human love languages to choose from, your dog only has one: the love language of dog.
In order to show him how much you love him, you first have to acknowledge that how you love your friends and family is going to be different — so smothering your pup in tight hugs might actually stress him out more than comfort him.
Some human shows of love to avoid with your pup include:
Forced hugs and cuddling
“There are some rare dogs out there who enjoy hugs, but the vast majority are not big fans,” Rubin said. “In the dog world, wrapping your arms around another dog and squeezing is a good way to start a fight, so dogs often get uncomfortable when we do it.” (Watch for big eyes, lip licking and ears pinning back to know if your dog is uncomfortable.)
Most dogs get uncomfortable when our faces approach theirs, so avoid smooching your dog with an unsolicited kiss. “It’s totally fine to receive smooches if they come to you!” Rubin said.
According to Rubin, most dogs aren’t fans of rough petting — especially on the head. “Vigorous petting on the head can be very uncomfortable, so keep an eye out to see if your pooch ducks away when you try,” Rubin said. (If you hold your hand out and your dog places their head in it, though, that’s a request for head rubs! Just go soft and slow).
When life gets weird, your dog is the one you go to help you feel happy and normal again. When practicing these little extra displays of affection daily (and avoiding ones your pup doesn’t like), you’ll be able to show your dog just how much you love him. And it’ll make you feel good, too!
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